NaPoWriMo 2/30 Measuring White

Measuring White

White opinions always matter
women’s rarely do.
So she dons a suit of I Am Serious
to discover how white she’s willing to lie

White lives define the Civilized
Black, the dark and wild
White hangs Black art to the sound of Black music
oh Black is still something White loves to buy

White speaks White English grammatically
an accent a sign of the barbarous
White is proud to only know White to choke
on the tongues grandparents forced parents to swallow

White families, the realm of the norm, of bliss
the choice to live queer, abomination
Now measure the cost of the fight to be civil
Gasp at the price of domestication

the measure of White the measure of right the measure of kith
and kin                the measure of White the measure of light to see
who is out and who in               the measure of White the measure of
might the measure of power that does us all in

______________________________________

2 reasons I am, today, once again, furious about White:
The Apartheid of Children’s Literature

Last year, only 93 of the 3,200 children’s books published were about Black people. That works out to less than three-percent

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NaPoWriMo 2014! 1/30

Waaayy too long away from my own blog doing other business. Now its April and BACK TO WRITING I MUST GO.  One never knows where poem-a-day will take one, but this one has been thinking constantly about white privilege, whiteliness, and the sixth extinction, so one suspects a lot of poems exploring whiteliness will be coming out.

First up

Destruction Lies in White DNA

Deoxyribonucleic acid
Deoxyribonucleic acid
Deoxyribonucleic acid
we whites refuse to assess disaster

Deoxyribonucleic acid
Deoxyribonucleic acid
Deoxyribonucleic acid
acquired slaves so the world we’d master

Deoxyribonucleic acid
Deoxyribonucleic acid
‘til cost was then reappraised—oil
less coins than breeding black flesh, and faster.

Deoxyribonucleic acid
the ways that we disconnect from actions,
industrial revolution hiding
the dead and dying. Oh we profit masters!

Deoxyribonucleic acid
the ways that we disengage from actions
that we take every day. The world knows,
though—that we are their disengaged assassins

It’s not about Race – It’s about Racism

I had the great fortune to read a stunning essay by Tanya Steele about privilege in the wake of the Zimmerman trial. You can (and should!) read her original here: Black Folks, It’s Time to Stop Taking Care of White People.

Among many moments of her grief-informed brilliance is this:

We have to demand that white people speak up in discussions on racism, not race – racism. While we tell our thousandth story about being accosted, turn and ask a white person, “What are you learning from this? How will you change as a result of hearing this? How has the verdict impacted you and your life going forward? What will you do differently in your life, as a result of this verdict?” Something. The parade of black grief while white folks sit and stare has to cease. We did not create the conditions for our suffering.

This rang so true with me, because as a feminist I’ve been saying this for years about male / male-pattern violence—enough with talking about how rape hurts US. There was the time when women believed that saying “this hurts” would change something, and we spoke with clarity and passion and tremendous courage. And then the culture of violent porn exploded, and we realized that the perpetrators KNEW it hurt and GOT OFF ON IT. So the focus had to shift to making men responsible, making them understand what they were doing was not how the world is but rather abnormal, bad, evil, etc. This has now been happening slowly, with great social change campaigns like the “Don’t Be THAT Guy” ads in Canada, the truly radical My Strength is Not for Hurting campaign or the posters flooding Facebook with the items like “If a female friend is drunk, DON’T RAPE HER.” All of these make it clear that as a society we need to be telling potential rapists not to rape than telling potential victims how, maybe, they could not be hurt if they just behaved themselves.

So I, and plenty of other White folks, have been having a conversation about how our attitudes are the real problem, not someone’s skin tone or language or culture. It’s a hard conversation, both when you first start and as your knowledge gets deeper and deeper. But many of have experience with this. We know that race is an invented concept, not a biological one, and that it is about power and privilege, not about skin color or hair or facial features or language. We know the issue isn’t race, but racism, same as we know the issue is femininity but male violence.

So it’s time to just start saying this a million times a day in every situation to everyone we encounter: The issue wasn’t Trayvon Martin’s “race,” it is George Zimmerman’s racism — and the racism of the entire legal structure that gave him the gun once, and now has given it back.

We have looked the problem in face, and it, White Folks, looks like us, not like Trayvon Martin.